Review by shabulia

"...if one were to describe Gears of War 2 in a word, WOW!"

When Gears of War first hit the scene, it showed that the Xbox 360 was a force to be reckoned with. It showed that the 360 was a true next-generation system and not just another Xbox with prettier graphics. Today, Gears of War 2 saw release and rest assured, it not only matches but exceeds the original.

You re-assume the role of Marcus Fenix, the hardened soldier from the first Gears game. It takes place a few months after where Gears of War left off. Humans are facing extinction and the only hope for mankind is to attack the Locust Horde on there own ground. In taking the battle to the enemy, we are exposed to a vast world that is much more detailed and organic in feel than that of the original game. Don't think there isn't plenty of destruction though. This game definitely has the same graphical style; it just feels like it has graduated to a new level of detail and gives us more environments to enjoy.

Speaking of graphical style, this game is an amazing sight to behold. The use of the Unreal 3 engine is apparent in every nook and cranny of Gears of War 2. Textures are crisp and the lighting and level of detail are amazing. Looking at this game in motion, you'd swear you were watching a high end PC game. How Epic was able to squeeze this kind of power out of the 360 is a mystery. Not only is everything crystal clear, but it runs silky smooth with no hiccups in frame rate. Characters facial expressions are lifelike, even though they still look like steroid poster boys. Wreckage and clutter are all around but it all looks sharp and detailed. Another thing that might be taken for granted is the background movement. Something is always going on beyond the main action. Helicopters are flying in the distance, fire and explosions blaze. It really gives the player the sense that this is a real war going on all around and Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad are not the only ones fighting the Horde. All of the action and the level of detail will leave your jaw on the floor.

In a game like this, personalities are made for each character by good voice acting. What was true for the first game is true for the sequel. Gears 2 features an incredible level of talent in the acting department. John Di Maggio give Marcus Fenix his gritty war-torn vocals and attitude with gusto. The other retuning characters feature their same voice actors and it is really clear that they take these roles seriously. This game could easily be given a cheesy feel that would make it an altogether different experience. But because of the great writing and voice acting, we are treated to a level of quality that few games enjoy but more should take advantage of.

The story here is much more significant. The original game was great but if it lacked in one area, it was story. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as developed as it could have been. Gears 2 fixes that and makes the experience feel more significant and full. In the first chapter, Dom (Marcus Fenix's partner and friend) is searching for his wife. While efforts are made to locate her, they fall flat and Dom's emotional moments set the tone for the game. He's angry, he's upset, and he feels hatred and pain. Those are just some of the beginning moments of the game. The story only gets deeper for each character and you really get a connection with them and their plight; something that was sorely lacking in the first game.

The score is back and it really adds to a game like this. Symphonic pumps of warlike cinema are ever present and could give John Williams a run for his money. When the action gets going, the music keeps the gamer enthralled with its raw energy. It's not an improvement over the first game, but it doesn't need to be. The first game had a great soundtrack and it's the same level of quality and feel in Gears 2.

The action is even more intense than the original game, if you can believe that. The enemies are plentiful and there is a larger variety of Grubs and other monsters to kill. Everything about this game is like that of the first except it's bigger and better. The fights are huge. Stomping enemies when they're down is back, but you can also just plain beat the hell out of them if you want to. Chainsaws, guns, grenades, and a whole slew of weapons make this game even more fun that the original one. The main campaign is longer and more fulfilling this time around due to the scope and added level of quality in every area of the game.

While the single player game is a blast, that doesn't mean the multiplayer has taken a backseat. Multiplayer is bigger and better this time around too. Co-op gaming makes the main game even more fun but the multiple modes and maps of online versus make this Gears of War 2 one to compete with the likes of Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4. There are so many different types of multiplayer that getting into each of them would take forever to explain in full. What's great is that there are both private and public matches so you can choose who you want to play against. Warzone is Cogs vs. Horde and basically just kill as many of the enemies as you can. Guardian makes one member a leader and it's up to the others to protect him and for him to stay alive as long as possible. Wingman is where teams compete against one another in close range battles. These are just a few of the many different types of multiplayer modes in the game. If you are looking for a game to keep you busy with friends for well into next year, look no further than Gears of War 2!

Everything action gamers could want in a game is right here. Gears of War 2 is poised to be game of the year. Everything you loved from the original game is back and is better this time around. Even if you're not a multiplayer aficionado, the single player campaign is enough to keep you coming back for more. Gears of War 2 is a game that does everything right. Epic might have just given us its magnum opus. This is one of the most graphically beautiful and detailed games out there for any system, bar none! Its scope is huge, its story is engaging, and the voice acting is top-notch. After playing this game, it leaves any gamer with nothing wanting. To sum it all up, if one were to describe Gears of War 2 in a word, WOW!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/07/08, Updated 12/17/08

Game Release: Gears of War 2 (US, 11/07/08)


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